Kurdish People's Protection Unit (YPG) fighters clashed with Islamic State militants on the outskirts of the Syrian town of Kobane — also known as Ayn al-Arab — Sunday, making advances that many think could allow the YPG to seize contested territory surrounding the border town.
The latest resistance efforts against the Islamic State offensive comes after weeks of heavy fighting, with reports indicating Kurdish forces have taken more than 60 percent of Kobane back from militants.
A video released by YPG on Monday shows various fighters from the military wing of Syria's Kurdish party — including troops from the women's arm, YPJ — blasting rounds of gunfire from trucks, building entryways, and small openings in partially demolished walls. One man can be seen shooting a rocket-propelled grenade from an open rooftop, while footage shows outgoing rounds landing on buildings in various parts of the leveled town.
The clashes Sunday reportedly unfolded outside of the town's Moro neighborhood, according to the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR). A separate set of violent confrontations took place south of Kobane on the edge of the Sofyan neighborhood, leaving one YPG fighter and nine Islamic State militants dead, the group said.
Before Sunday's gains, the SOHR released reports claiming that the Islamic State had lost ground in Kobane, after Kurdish forces pushed back against the militants' offensive on the Syrian town, which began in mid-September. At the height of the Islamic State's siege of Kobane, the militants reportedly held more than 50 percent of the town.
"Kurdish forces now control more than 60 percent of the city," said Rami Abdel Rahman, SOHR's director, according to Al Arabiya.
"ISIS has even left areas that the Kurds did not enter for fear of mines," he added, using the militant group's commonly-used acronym.
The YPG's advance over the weekend was aided by ramped-up US-led coalition airstrikes on militant strongholds over the Christmas period.
On December 25 and 26, the coalition launched 39 airstrikes against Islamic State positions, 13 of which targeted Kobane, demolishing 17 militant targets, including vehicles and buildings held by the fighters. The Deputy Special Presidential Envoy for the coalition, Brett McGurk, confirmed on Twitter that 8 airstrikes were carried out in Kobane on Sunday, destroying 13 ISIS positions.